Last weeks article stirred a lot of reaction, I was flooded with parents wanting to discuss how there exś are withholding the children as a bargaining chip. That thought process had never crossed my mind. This is beyond hating you ex more then you love your child. That's downright vile and cruel not only to the child but the parent that's being held captive. These aren't terrorist negotiations taking place, this is a parent that wants to see their child.
Some of the emails I received were truly heart breaking. Ranging from parents with holding their children because a "certain action" hadn't occurred, or parent being angry at their exeś betrayal, infidelity and that they're trying to inflict the "same" pain to the other parent but realistically this level of manipulation, is beyond comprehensible. Not only are you hurting the other parent, you're devastating your child with your actions or in some cases lack of.
Let's discuss the negative psychological impact you're causing on your child. Shutting down your child's emotional need with guilt, negative talk, et cetra, you are literally breaking them down piece by piece. You are effectively closing off your child's need to express their emotions, your need to trump their feelings by being outrageously and irrationally emotional to show you're more upset than them is wrong.
They will put their feelings on hold and change their focus to comforting you. A child should never be manipulated to comfort a parent, a child is just that, a child, you shouldn't rob them of their childhood because of your selfish reasons.
Establishing rules is healthy and needed for a child. However when you're dealing with an irrational parent, rules are inconsistent. Inconsistency is the key for the insecure parents because this keeps the kids on their toes, the child doesn't know what's expected of them. They're in the constant role of asking for forgiveness and reassurance from the parent. Being unpredictable and sporadic with your child will cause a state of panic, as well as shifting the sole focus to never disappoint the parent.
Your child is not savvy to the ways of world so stop asking them for advice or putting them in the middle by making them choose. As the parent, your concerns, bruised ego, hate, any emotions your processing, it's your feelings, not your child's. This is too much for a child to bare, when you behave helpless, incapable of taking care of yourself how is your child suppose to feel about you taking care of them. You are burdening your child with your emotional baggage that is not their responsibility or duty, you're crippling them.
Let's set aside your emotional turmoil, the pain inflicted was caused by your ex, the other parent, seeing or talking to them rehashes wounds. You have to communicate with the person that has betrayed you, it's hard, devastating to look at the one person that you believed would never hurt you but now as the adult you have to place your anger aside and put your child first. This means you can't speak negatively about the other parent. Being in a constant battle, cold shoulder, bitter, flustered and playing the blame game isn't healthy for anyone. You're sending a message to your child that not only do you not accept the other parent but indirectly you're rejecting your own child.
Your child needs to figure out who they are, they can't be worried about mom and dads emotional needs being met. The worst thing you can do is wrap yourself up in your child's identity. Do not place that burden on your child, your worth as a parent isn't based on your children's performance. To place an unrealistic life expectations on your child is stealing your childs identity. Expressing to your child that their performance in everything they do reflects you, that their failure is yours, this is inappropriate. Putting extreme pressure on them to be the best in everything they do, to prove you're an amazing parent actually proves you're not.
Not all moms are out to attack dads and not all dads are loving, dedicated fathers to their children or vice versa. The caveat here is if your dealing with a parent that truly loves their child and has only wronged you then you need to suck it up and co-parent. I'm not talking about a narcissistic parent and or absuive parent.
If you find yourself with a parent that does want to co-parent and loves their child put aside your bitterness and co-parent for the sake of the kids. Don't hold your children hostage and use them as a bargaining chip, children aren't tools or a means to an end. Children are here to enhance your life, not to be a reminder of a failed relationship. They are reminders of the beautiful times you and your ex had, they are what you two were and what you two can now be, co-parents. Life evolves, relationships change, embrace your reality and start finding peace not only for yourself but for your child.